Brooks School

Franklin Dong

February 3rd, 2021

Changinc Perspectives

"There will be time, there will be time

To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet"

-T. S. Eliot


At the time that I am writing this, it has been 332 days since I've been home. 


The yin and yang are changing colors so fast we're confused.


Falling autumn leaves cascade from treetops to the newly-frozen ground. People are coming out of hiding, sniffing the air hopefully for reassuring normalcy that has eluded them for so long. 

It's been more than 8 months since COVID-19 rudely introduced itself to America, and almost a year since I last saw my parents. My worldview at the moment is utterly unrecognizable when compared to the one I possessed a year ago. Last year's Christmas break was the peaceful winter I had hoped for; the kind of winter that witnessed reunion, hugs and nostalgia for my family. Beijing city stood quiet, like a sentinel standing guard over some sacred sentiment, a deity protecting its last hiding place. In short, it felt like home. 


The yin and yang are changing colors so fast we're confused.


I turned 17 over that break. January 1st, the New Year baby: I kept with the world's pace as it renewed and kept on with its self-reinventions. But as I saw Beijing vanish once again from my plane's tiny, frozen window, I had no clue that I wouldn't be coming back for quite some time. I had become so accustomed to jumping back and forth between both sides of the Pacific that I never had a chance to take a break from the road and be with myself. However, that changed when the happenings of 2020 pulled me back from travelling and forced me to remain here in America. I had my first taste of true homesickness, and it irreversibly changed the way I looked at that phenomenon: the worst of it isn't the separation of my family and me, but the disillusioning fact that I don't know how long this will last. 


The yin and yang are changing colors so fast we're confused. 


My 18th birthday will be here soon. The world seems to assign some sort of metaphysical connection between the age 18 and maturation: according to the law, when I turn 18 I will be a completely different individual with a new set of responsibilities. There's undoubtedly a formidable burden that will be placed on me when 2021 comes around. For the last seventeen years, I've spent my birthdays with my parents in Beijing . But this year, I'll become an adult while being far from any sense of traditional familiarity and sincereness, away from my family and home, and in the midst of a global pandemic. This sudden change in scenery affects my dispositions in the most cruel and subtle ways. 


The yin and yang are changing colors so fast we're confused. 


Being in quarantine for so long has imposed an obligated sense of self-reckoning on me. As this chaotic whirlwind of a year draws to a restless close, instinctively I look back at what we've just been through. But this time, it's not leaning out the car to look back at a piece of scenery so hauntingly beautiful that it warranted my actions; it's twisting my neck back to see the fiery car crash I just drove by. If anything, 2020 has proved the futility of planmaking to us, and emphasized the importance of self-care and self-awareness. Humans in general are not good at being alone, but we can change that by attempting to strike a balance between the world outside and the worlds in us. 


The yin and yang are changing colors so fast we're confused. 


We are not programmed to adore change and gravitate towards it naturally. Newton's first law says that every object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless compelled to change by an external force-such as a global pandemic. We change in quarantine, forced to keep ourselves company; we change as we grow older, living with a different approach with every lap around the sun; we change under the unblinking stare of the sky and all that is above it, forced to protest, and adapt… 


The yin and yang are changing colors so fast we're confused. 


From the way I was raised, turning 18 is a moment of great significance. A quite nerve-racking ordeal of change on its own, let alone going through it in a foreign place, devoid of family or a sense of home. But we have to keep on keeping on, with our exhausted, bloodshot eyes aimed at the shapeshifting road, knowing that the only constant is change. The world continues to glow a dangerous red as a long and lonely winter bargains with the reluctant hourglass. So I grew up. 


  • Instagram